Are you getting melancholy about next week’s season finale, Dance Mom nation? Or has news of a second season warmed your heart?
In any case, I’m pretty sure last night’s episode set us up for some of what we’ll see in Season 2. Namely a big pile of Maddie drama.
We begin in beautiful Lake Tahoe, site of the much anticipated Nationals, where the girls frolic (i.e. bend themselves in thirds backward) in the sunshine and fresh mountain air — and Abby Lee is suddenly sporting an on-purpose hairdo and department store make-up in her “confessionals.” Also pearls.
We do the requisite Pyramid of Doom thing — Maddie on the top, yada yada yada. Maddie and Chloe get solos — and in a dooze of a surprise, a duet with one another. Everyone’s a winner!
Paige and Brooke will also duet, as friends Abby warns them. Not as bickering sisters. Foreshadowing has now been nicely handled. Also, little MacKenzie will be part of the group dance, which thrills Chloe and Maddie and no one else, including MacKenzie. You’re on the show, kid. Ya might as well dance.
The group dance — called “Beautiful” at the beginning of the episode, “This Is My Beauty” at the end — is about being pretty on the inside. It cracks me and my husband up that Abby can actually say those words in a row with a straight face, but once she clarifies that what she wants to convey to the judges is that “we think we’re beautiful, dancing is beautiful, everybody is beautiful” with a “what the hell ever” toss of her hand, it makes more sense. Especially coupled with the pearls and department store makeup.
Noting the city’s beautiful weather, the moms ditch their kids and go outside for some fresh air and kibitzing on the studio steps. “‘So everybody sucks!’” Christi says wryly of the pyramid. “That was the message: ‘You all sucked in the last two weeks — but I want to see enthusiasm!’”
Because Maddie is permanently cemented atop said pyramid, that’s as far as Melissa is interested in taking this line of discussion. “Well, girls,” she interjects, “I have news for you!”
“Pregnant” deadpans Christi, making Melissa screech and me realize that Christi is becoming one of my favorite characters on television, just in time for the season to end.
Nope, no baby. Having just returned to the dance circuit after spending time with her boyfriend, if we are to believe that these episodes were actually shot sequentially, Melissa is now going on vacation to Florida with her “honey.” And without the girls, who will be surrendered to the custody of Gia the choreographer. (Apparently Melissa got wind that last week’s babysitter, Abby Lee, appeared to have left little Mac locked in the hotel room for much of the episode, for all the one-on-one time we saw her spend with Maddie.)
“I’m so excited,” says Melissa with a look that suggests anything but. Christi can’t believe how much Melissa’s priorities have changed. Christi obviously only reads her portion of the script.
Oops — recess is over. Abs wants her whipping gals back in the room. She needs them there.
We discover that Chloe’s solo will be called “Another Season” — enh, get it? — is about “rebirth and renewing and moving onto another story.” Enh!!! Problem is Chloe is tired of dancing. Christi is wondering where to draw the line.
This leads to a group mom meeting, which is mostly Abby Lee admonishing a group of beaten-down looking mothers for their children’s shortcomings. Holly first. Holly doesn’t like Abby’s word choices; Abby Lee wishes Holly would stop comparing her Ph.d in education with Abby’s proven dance-teaching methods. Apples and oranges, says Abby Lee. And how! ”I’m Abby Lee Miller — I don’t have to do anything!” she crows. Pretty much. Holly nods in surrender.
Next up is Christi, who is told that Chloe needs to knock off the second-guessing herself and work on her confidence. My husband about falls out of his chair. Abby further explains that, while Chloe is the dancer to whom people’s eyes are drawn in her group, when it comes to competition, Chloe chokes. Because of her mother. Who was just holding the worn-out child in her lap and contemplating letting her off the runaway Abby train.
You don’t need me to tell you this is foreshadowing, too.
Kelly is told that if she was Brooke’s and Paige’s mother, she would crawl into a hole. Kelly, who has wised up a truckload throughout the course of the season, tells Abby her kids aren’t trying to be Maddie and Chloe and she loves them just the way they are. This actually gets to me. Abby doesn’t get it one bit. She wants Kelly to “smack their heads together” and tell them to shape up. Who wants a mediocre kid, damnit?
At this, Christi pulls off a killer single-eyed eye roll that I have been practicing unsuccessfully ever since, and Kelly tells Abby to take Brooke’s crown and shove it up her ass. Her words, not mine. Kelly is excused from the room. And I kind of suspect from Season 2, but I guess we’ll see. That seems to end the meeting.
Next we find out that Chloe and Maddie’s duet will be Black Swan. Guess which one will be the good ballerina and which one will be the bad one? Guess! Abby says they’re battling it out for “the prince,” but we all know what this battle is really about. Chloe thinks she’s actually playing a swan, but she’s tickled, er, black to be crossing over to the dark side for a spell. I bet, little sister. I just bet.
Christi picks two seconds before Abby commandeers the kids for a trip out to the lake to tell her that Chloe is considering quitting dance. Abby says the usual stuff about a million other kids clamoring for Chloe’s spot, then once the children are spread out on towels lakeside, gives them the world’s most insincere pep talk about being beautiful on the inside. Which entails having them holler, “I’m beautiful on the inside!” and that’s about it.
Bless the editors’ hearts, they intersect this with a breakaway to little Mac announcing, “Sometimes I don’t think Abby knows what she’s talking about” and it takes a full three minutes for the husband and me to quit laughing. Then comes a tender little moment between Abby and Chloe in which Abby gives her the same “million kids to replace you” speech and then tells her she was born to dance. Chloe wants to know if Abby thinks she’ll be on Broadway someday. Abby says yes. If she knocks off the no self confidence thing and doesn’t make Abby replace her with a million other children. Food for thought.
Speaking of husbands, hey guess what?! Melissa’s former one, Kurt, has magically appeared in Lake Tahoe, making his presence known at a bowling outing the moms have taken with the shrieking children. He’s ticked that Melissa’s off the Sunshine State with her honey and the kids will be left with the people who see them most during the day, anyway — even though they just did it last weekend, too, and he was nowhere to be found. He calls Melissa “Missy” and wants us to know that dance is what led to the demise of his family. Missy says it’s because he doesn’t listen.
Then it’s back to dance. Abby ships Brooke and Paige to work with a guest choreographer so she and Gia can focus on Maddie’s solo. Kelly flips. Abby flips. Kelly and Abby flip. Kelly and the clearly-rattled kids split for the pool. No word on what “Guest Choreographer” did with his free time.
Abby orders the kids to get back stage and psych out the other kids. I’m sure the TV crew is doing a fine enough job, but we’ve got a bigger problem on our hand anyway. A muscly one, anyway. Kurt is here. Kurt clearly loves his kids, but loathes the dance thing and Maddie becomes a nervous wreck. Kurt leaves and Christi gives Maddie a mommy hug in Melissa’s place.
Solo time. Maddie does a solo that looks pretty much like every other one she’s done all season — does this child do nothing but lyrical routines? It’s perfect. Kurt is happy.
Then Chloe goes out and performs equally flawlessly for about 60 seconds. Then some oddball horror film music suddenly overrides her dance music, leaving me fiddling furiously with the remote until I realize that it’s actually part of the show. And Chloe is frozen on the stage. I do not believe for one second that this kid has forgotten a millisecond of this routine, only because her pause is so lovely and perfectly posed. And Christi and Abby stay oddly calm. Chloe is the sacrificial lamb of Ep 11.
Chloe cries. “I guess everyone cries when they pause on stage,” she beams in confessional a few seconds later. I guess. Poor Chloe.
Maddie wins. Kurt’s a humble guy, but he’s proud as punch of Maddie and hopes she continues her success. But he also hopes “it don’t go to her head.” Too late, toots. Next thing we see is a startlingly makeup-free Maddie informing us that her nine crowns do not fit on her one shelf any more so her mother must build her a new one.
Despite a super-jaunty tune to dance to, Brooke and Paige’s duet goes predictably erratically and Abby looks like she’s watching someone peel baby birds as they dance.
The swans are stunning. Their costumes are stunning. Their choreography is stunning. They should dance together more often. And Chloe makes a glorious faux-murderess. Even Abby is thrilled with her.
Paige and Brooke get fifth. Maddie and Chloe get first. No one dies of shock.
Now it’s time for the group number and Abby wants everyone to dance as beautiful as the Lake Tahoe mountains. Also, she wants them not to freak if their tops ride up because the judges are in show business and they’ve seen it all. Never mind the folks in the audience and those of us watching at home.
“You’ve seen one boob, you’ve seen ‘em all,” Ab philosophizes. <Choke>
And Kurt’s back. Abby is not having it. She does not want the child’s dad near his child. ”He’s rude to other people,” she explains, “and that makes Maddie embarrassed.” <Choke harder>
The two proceed to engage in a screaming match just outside the door that should rattle Maddie more than Kurt saying, “Hey!” ever could. The white swan presses her ear to the door. Kurt tells Abby she may have ruined his marriage, but she did not make his daughters. She says she “put their names on the map” and he assures her that he will do everything in his power to make sure the girls do not return to her studio next season. Abby looks like he’s threatening to remove her very heart. And his children’s names from the map.
Despite the behavior of the adults, the girls go out and demonstrate how wonderful it feels to be beautiful beautifully.
One point. One. Just one single point separates first and second place in the group competition. The girl’s beauty vanquishes the competition and no one … not one single person … is ever going to forget the name Abby Lee Dance Company, according to Abby Lee.
And so, nine and ten, they just won again. National champs.
Except Kurt is still determined to yank his kids.
And Abby is not letting the kids head home just yet.
Nay, it’s back to L.A. for everyone, because they’ve invited to audition for a music video! With a guy named Seven! But only one girl can be the star!
Coming up in the season finale, Melissa is not taking this one-star thing lying down. Or maybe she is.
Catch full episodes of Dance Moms online at mylifetime.com. The season finale airs Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 10pm ET.